DUSHANBE, October 27, 2012, Asia-Plus – Tajikistan has been steadily improving its transportation infrastructure to facilitate economic growth.

On Saturday October 27, President Emomali Rahmon officially inaugurated the Shahriston Tunnel in the northern Sughd province.

Speaking at the tunnel-inaugurating ceremony, the president noted that the construction of the tunnel had taken six years.

He, in particular, noted that the tunnel was of strategic significance for the region.  According to him the Shahriston Tunnel will help Tajikistan come out of the transportation deadlock.

The 5,252-meter Shahriston Tunnel is part the Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway rehabilitation project.  The tunnel was constructed with help of specialists from China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).  A total budget for construction of the Shahriston Tunnel is US$51.7 million.

The Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak highway rehabilitation project was launched in summer 2006.  Chinese company, China Road and Bridge Corporation, won the tender and Beijing in 2006 offered Tajikistan grants and loans to fund the project.  A total project cost is estimated at $295.9 million, including $281.1 million provided by the Chinese government in a form of a long-term loan.  The loan carries a 20-year period and an interest rate of 2 percent per annum.  The remaining some $14.8 million have been provided by the Government of Tajikistan.

On the same day, President Rahmon signaled the start of rehabilitation of a road between Ayni-Panjakent and the Uzbek border in northern Tajikistan.

We will recall that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $100 million grant to help Tajikistan upgrade this vital road, which is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Corridor 6 that spans about 10,000 km linking Europe and the Russian Federation to the Middle East and South Asia.

The 113-kilometer road — part of the historic Silk Road — runs along the Zarafshon River through the Zarafshon Valley, crossing the Ayni and Panjakent districts before ending at the border with Uzbekistan.  Improvements to this road are expected to increase regional connectivity, reduce transport costs, strengthen competitiveness and facilitate development of tourism in the area.  The project is expected to be finished in 2016.